The Smurfs are little blue creatures that live in mushroom houses in a forest inhabited mainly by their own kind. The smurfs average daily routine is attempting to avoid Gargomel, an evil man who wants to kill our little blue friends.
In brief, this is a cartoon show about a gang of animals--two chipmunks, two mice, and a common housefly--who live together in a tree and solve crimes and have various adventures together. But it's so much better than it sounds from that simple description. The writing is witty with sharp, consistent characterizations, both of the Rescue Rangers themselves and of all the various villains and minor characters. The background music is catchy and the plots are inventive, random, silly and at the same time serious, without being preachy or heavy-handed in giving "morals" at all.
As for the basics of the show, the Rescue Rangers are composed of Chip--intelligent and determined with a streak of mischief that only occasionally surfaces; Dale--goofy and often trying to prove himself, and also to bring out Chip's goofy side; Monterey Jack--worldly and generally in control of the situation, except of course when it comes to cheese; Gadget--brilliant and absent-minded and sometimes startlingly wise; and Zipper--plucky and enthusiastic and loyal. But all of that can be found in any summary of the show; it doesn't capture what is so great about the show. None of the characters are even close to one-dimensional, and their interactions are complex, witty and fascinating, and can't even be summarized briefly.
Just as interesting are the "bad guys"--the main recurring ones are Fat Cat and his gang, and Professor Nimnul, a self-proclaimed unappreciated genius. The villains are witty, entertaining, ironic, outrageous, and just plain funny. And in general the show avoids the issue of "good vs. evil" directly; the plots typically revolve around the Rescue Rangers thwarting some scheme of a villain to gain power or wealth in unlawful ways (although some episodes don't even have an identifiable villain), but you're not made to hate the villains at all, only to disapprove of their selfishness or greed. In terms of subtle moral messages, I would say that this show shows (not preaches) the value of teamwork, the idea that everyone deserves help, and that selfishness and greed will get you nowhere in the end.
But the moral messages are not the main reason to watch this show, although they're important to the charm of the show. I started watching it when I was about four, and it's stuck with me throughout my life, becoming a central part of our family culture even when we go years without actually watching an episode. If a show can be judged by how often it gets quoted or referenced in everyday life, then Rescue Rangers has been the best and most important show in my life. So many of the lines and references have worked their way into my regular vocabulary, lines that are witty or clever or insightful or just plain funny. So often my dad and I find ourselves making analogies to RR episodes while having serious discussions. On the surface the plots may seem entertaining but not "deep" in a traditional dramatic sense, but believe me, the wit of the plots and characters and dialogue seeps into your thoughts in ways that will surprise you. It's fun and entertaining, and in a subtle way, very meaningful.
Overall, I wouldn't be who I am now without this show. I find that it's written with a depth of cleverness, references, wit, and character development that isn't quite matched in any of the other Disney Afternoon shows (with Gummi Bears coming closest). It's funny, entertaining, and deep, and I'd recommend it to anyone of any age who's willing not to be cynical about watching a show about crime-solving rodents. It's more than worth it.
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